Specter of ACTA hangs over TTIP negotiations

Parliamentarians warn against non-transparency in EU-US trade negotiations

Intellectual property (IP) should be left out of current trade negotiations with the U.S. and a deal should not be reached in secret, European civil liberties representatives advised the European Commission's trade department Wednesday.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, formerly known as TAFTA), being negotiated by the European Commission, is haunted by the ghost of the controversial ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) accord that was shot down by the European Parliament last year. ACTA was defeated following widespread public protests over the secrecy in which it was negotiated, as well as concerns that elements of the text protecting copyright could breach civil liberties.

Speaking at a meeting in the European Parliament, representatives of EDRi, ACCESS and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) warned the Commission that it could face the same protests over TTIP.

Rupert Schlegelmilch from the Commission's trade department, which is conducting the talks with the U.S., said that "as a citizen" he would like increased transparency, but that given the practical concerns of international trade talks, public negotiations are not feasible.

However, the Commission is obliged to keep European parliamentarians "fully informed," and Schlegelmilch said that, of course, required information will be passed on to elected officials. One of those officials, Maritje Schaake, said she would do whatever she could to make the debate public.

"Without full transparency, it is going to be very difficult to convince people that an IP chapter is anything more than an ACTA zombie," said Schaake's fellow parliamentarian, Christian Engstrom. Legislators with knowledge of the proposed deal are willing to make its contents publicly known, he said.

Meanwhile, Joe McNamee of EDRi argued that the Commission would be shooting itself in the foot by resisting transparency, as much of the public would then automatically assume it had something to hide, even if 70 percent of the proposals were good. "I don't see the value of non-transparency. In fact it could kill TTIP just as effectively as it killed ACTA," said McNamee.

On the content of the TTIP draft text, Bernt Hugenholtz, professor of intellectual property law and director of the Institute for Information Law at the University of Amsterdam, said that one of many reasons not to include IP in TTIP is that it would lock in those standards, blocking much needed IP law reform.

The Commission is not talking about rules-based enforcement of IPR, just cooperation, Schlegelmilch said. But that will not placate those like Hugenholtz, Schaake and Engstrom who are strongly arguing for reform.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentregulationlegalintellectual propertytrade

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?